in 2002 the ATI radeon 9700 pro 128mb was THE best video card money could buy. back then standard benchmark test used quake 3, and the radeon 9700 scored a 220 frame per second rate at 32-bit 1600x1200. with all that power came a price and the 9700 pro sold for $400. 5 years later, i'm buying one used for $30 off of craig's list.

what these nice circuitry photos won't tell you is the number of hoops i had to jump through in order to get this card, and the hoops i still have to jump through in order to get the 9700 pro to work on my mac.

it all started last night. i'd already agreed to buy the card from a local seller for $60. browsing ebay however i came across several auctions selling the card at $30 (actually $20 with about $10 for shipping). sensing i was getting ripped off, i wrote back the local seller and told him i didn't want the card after all, unless he was willing to sell for $30. that was last night. when i woke up this morning and didn't see any response, i figured the seller wasn't interested in selling it for less so i started looking to ebay. there was an auction with 4 hours left that i wanted to make a bid for but when i logged into my ebay account (which i haven't used in a long time), ebay told me the account was suspended. i tried getting them to reactivate it but didn't get anywhere, so i ended up creating a new ebay account. i made 2 bids and both times i was immediately outbidded. by then the price for the card had gone up to $40 and i didn't know how much more it'd go up before the auction was over. i decided to wait until the last minute before putting in another bid. fortunately before i could do that, my local seller e-mailed me and agreed to sell it for $30. he asked if we could meet at 5pm and i agreed.

under normal circumstances a ride down to cambridgeport (where the seller works) would be a simple matter. however, a severe rainstorm had descended upon boston during the rush hours. i knew i was going to get wet; i just had to decide how soaked i wanted to be. all i had on was a raincoat, so my jeans but completely drenched. not only was it raining, but it was also dark. not that i could see much anyway, with my glasses covered in rain drops. fortunately because of the traffic jams, everyone was driving slow. when i finally made it to cambridgeport, of course i got lost amidst the maze of one way streets. i had to stop at an office park and ask for directions. when i arrived at my destination, i pulled out my umbrella from a jacket pocket and fumbled with the keys on my cellphone to call my seller. i went into his office and slipped the used video card into a plastic bag before tucking it into another jacket pocket. i thought it was ironic that on such a wet and miserable night i'd be transporting a sensitive electronic component. i made my way to putnam avenue and cut across cambridgeport back to my neighborhood. as soon as i got home i got out of my wet clothes and jumped into a hot shower to warm up.

128k ROM chip (25P05V6)

so in the end i got a real bargain. the ebay auction which i lost ended up selling the video card for $60, the original asking price of my local seller. so if anyone got ripped off, it was actually him, although at the time when i made the new $30 deal i wasn't trying to be a savvy negotiator. the radeon 9700 pro still needs to be flashed so it'll work on my mac, and i also need to get a floppy drive cable to power the card (the card is so advanced, it needs additional power besides just the AGP port). these cards come in 2 flavors, either the 128k or 64k (the size of the zappable ROM). 128k is the preferred, since the mac ROM is also 128k. it took me a while to locate the ROM chip on the card and it turned out to be this tiny little thing on the back of the circuit board. to read the serial number (in order to check if it's 128k or 64k), i almost needed a magnifying glass. but i'm happy to report i got the better 128k version.

so that was my evening. earlier in the day, the first thing i did this morning was to visit that bike shop near porter square to ask them about the bike lock situation. they said they could remove it, but it's going to cost me around $45. too expensive, so it looks like it's going to have to be a DIY solution with a hacksaw. i went out later, this time to visit an ATM machine to get some cash when i heard my seller was willing to part ways with his video card for $30.

for both lunch and dinner i had more of last night's leftover pasta. i've eaten so much that i don't think i can eat anymore, but there's still about 2 servings left (which may mysteriously find itself in the trash, depending how i feel about it tomorrow). zhu lei came home later than usual, well past 8pm. i didn't see him making any dinner and he went to bed pretty early (10pm). he didn't ask me about what i found out from the bicycle shop.